Director: Eric R. Dahlen, Ph.D.
Frequently Asked Questions
I started this page with the goal of compiling many of the most frequent questions I receive about the lab and answering them to benefit those seeking additional information. I will continue to add content as I encounter new questions. If you cannot find the answer to your question here, please feel free to contact me.
What kind of research do you do at the Anger and Traffic Psychology Lab?
What future studies do you have planned?
I update the home page of the lab website periodically to provide some ideas of studies in the early development stage. I expect that we will continue to examine relational aggression and victimization among emerging adults. I'd like to learn more about the manner in which this behavior impacts college student mental health, the various motives students have for engaging in it, and how we might prevent and or manage it more effectively. We have a number of students working in the lab who are interested in various dark personality traits, and we will almost certainly continue working in that area. I'd like to move beyond the Dark Triad and incorporate measures of sadism, spitefulness, and authoritarianism into some of our work. We have recently started to look at cyber aggression, and this is another area where we should soon be developing additional studies. Our work is frequently shaped by student interests too, so I am sure there will be future studies I cannot anticipate.
Who works in the lab?
Lab members include master's and doctoral students admitted to the Counseling Psychology Program at the University of Southern Mississippi and undergraduate students enrolled at the University of Southern Mississippi who are interested in gaining research experience. You can find more information about joining the lab here.
Are you admitting doctoral students to work with you this year?
Yes, I typically aim to admit one doctoral student per year. Additional information about graduate admissions can be found here.
What do you look for in a doctoral student?
Although program faculty make admissions decisions by committee, individual faculty members typically determine who they invite to campus for interviews. In evaluating written application materials, I start with applicants' potential for success in the academic aspects of doctoral training. GRE scores, GPA, research experience, work experience, the quality of the personal statement, and letters of recommendation are among the factors that help me make this decision. Next, I look closely at fit. In our program, doctoral students are admitted to work in the lab of a major professor. This means that each of us looks for students with research interests similar to ours. Current students in my lab are involved in a variety of different projects; however, most of our work is connected to anger, aggression, various aspects of traffic psychology, and/or dark personality traits in some way. Thus, I am primarily interested in interviewing doctoral applicants with interests in these areas.
Can master's students join the lab?
Yes, students in the Counseling Psychology Master's Program are often valuable members of the lab. Depending on their interests and the availability of positions, we are happy to consider applications from master's students. For more information, see our page on joining the lab.
Is it necessary to have previous research experience?
No. While successful doctoral applicants have usually had some previous research experience, there is great variability in the extent of their experience. Many master's students and most undergraduate research assistants have not had prior research experience before joining the lab.
Do students working in the lab have opportunities to present and/or publish their work?
Yes, we strongly encourage our students to present at professional conferences and submit manuscripts for publication in peer-reviewed journals. While opportunities to do so are readily available, the degree to which students take advantage of them depends on the student and his or her professional goals. Most of our doctoral students present work based on their master’s thesis and/or dissertation at professional conferences (you can find some examples here). Some go beyond this and present the results of collaborative research projects, literature reviews, or more clinically-focused work as well. Similarly, many of our doctoral students will submit manuscripts based on their master’s thesis and dissertation for publication in peer-reviewed journals (you can find some examples here). Those seeking academic or other research-oriented careers will likely be involved with additional research projects that aim to produce publishable manuscripts. Because master's students are around for considerably less time than doctoral students, we tend to steer them more toward conference presentations initially; however, there are opportunities for them to be involved with publications too.
Where can I find more information about the graduate programs?
You can find information about the Counseling Psychology Program at the University of Southern Mississippi online at http://www.usm.edu/counseling-psychology.
I am primarily interested in working with children and adolescents. Should I apply?
Our research focuses on emerging adults, and most of our projects to date have utilized college student samples. While we have some projects in the planning phase that may include non-college adults, we are unlikely to conduct research with persons under the age of 18. If you are primarily interested in conducting research with children and adolescents during your graduate training, you will not find that opportunity here. We have had students who have expressed an interest in wanting to work with children and/or adolescents later in their careers, but they understand that their research focus here will be on adult populations. It is also worth noting that the Counseling Psychology program at the University of Southern Mississippi is rather adult-focused in terms of the clinical training students receive. For example, our in-house training clinic through which students begin their practicum training does not provide services to persons under the age of 16.
Can undergraduate students join the lab?
Depending on the nature of current and planned research projects, I am happy to accept motivated undergraduate students enrolled at the University of Southern Mississippi into the lab. Of course, I also want to make sure that there will be enough for them to do to obtain worthwhile research experience. Priority is given to psychology majors with GPAs of 3.0 or higher who are seeking research experience to strengthen applications for graduate school. Interested students should refer to our page on joining the lab.
Do you take undergraduate honors students?
The undergraduate honors program at the University of Southern Mississippi is designed to allow a small number of students to have an intensive research experience, culminating in the completion of an honors thesis. Directing an undergraduate honors thesis is a time-consuming process for faculty. That being the case, my two primary considerations in deciding whether to take an undergraduate honors student are (1) whether I have the time and resources necessary to devote to the project, and (2) the fit and flexibility between what the student wants to do and what we can reasonably offer in the lab.
What is traffic psychology?
At the broadest level, traffic psychology focuses on the relationship between a variety of psychological variables and aspects of driver behavior. My interests center on the role of personality and individual differences (e.g., driving anger, sensation seeking, impulsivity) in risky, aggressive, or otherwise unsafe driving behavior.
How do I apply for a post doc position?
The lab does not offer post doc positions, and there are no plans to do so.
I am not enrolled at the University of Southern Mississippi. Can I work at the lab?
No, we are not able to accept individuals who are not currently enrolled at the University of Southern Mississippi.
Do you have paid positions available?
No, we do not offer paid positions or graduate assistantships to students outside the Counseling Psychology graduate programs.